Pujara, Ishant fail to fire in England

Test regulars Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma, and speedster Varun Aaron are yet to find form to inspire confidence ahead of India’s tour of England in July.

Cheteshwar Pujara had chipped in with a century and a fifty in four matches in Yorkshire’s title-winning campaign in 2015.   -  Getty Images

India’s Test regulars Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma have registered tepid starts to their County Championship season. Pujara, playing for Yorkshire, two seasons after his useful role in the team’s title-winning campaign in 2015, has been dismissed cheaply in both his matches so far, while Ishant has been useful more with the bat than the ball in his three matches played for Sussex so far.

India speedster Varun Aaron has also featured in the competition, in the second division. He’s taken a single wicket in his only bowling innings for Leicestershire.

Cheap dismissals

Having played against Nottinghamshire and Somerset, Pujara has scores of 2, 18, 7 and 6. The long championship is only just warming up, and if Pujara picks up form ahead of India’s tour of England, it would augur well for a side that was annihilated comprehensively in its last two tours.

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In fact, India’s lack of recent success is in part attributed to its incompatibility to make the most of the seaming conditions in England. Moreover, India’s captain and run-machine Kohli suffered a rare failure the last time India toured, in 2014, compelling him to announce his participation in county cricket this season, after the conclusion of the ongoing Indian Premier League.

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Lack of time to adjust to foreign conditions was a reason cited to make sense of India’s Test series loss in South Africa as well.

Middling outings for Ishant

However, it is too early at this early juncture of the championship to foresee an advantage for the touring Indian side. Seamer Ishant, a key figure in India’s bowling attack, has not yet shown form to gather confidence. In the drawn match against Warwickshire, he took five wickets and scored 22 in the only innings played. He took a three-for in the next match against Leicestershire, but made headlines more for scoring his first first-class half-century.

He had a lacklustre outing in the subsequent contest against Gloucestershire, failing to take a wicket and managing single-digit scores. His team plays Middlesex on Friday, May 4, in the fourth round of Division Two. In Division One, Pujara’s Yorkshire takes on Essex.